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Star Gazing

Story Time

dan@berkeleywvnews.com
by Katherine Genung

“Astrology assumes a link between Earth and sky in which all existence, spiritual, psychological, and physical, is interconnected”

Based on the ancient view that our souls came from divine gods in the heavens, Plato theorized that they originated in individual stars.  Souls, he said, coalesced from stardust and took human form; to live on earth.  Earth was then seen as the very center of the universe.  When a mortal died, their soul returned to that originating star, and took with it a mortal’s personality, mannerisms, habits, opinions, desires, pleasures, pains, and fears that became part of the star.  And so, the derivation of the current fashion to have a star named in honor of a deceased loved one. 

Other wise men, cosmologists, astronomers, magicians, and seers sectioned off those stars into groups and named the forty-eight ancient constellations; as well as gave them personalities.  Then the ancient Babylonians, Egyptians, and Greeks designed the zodiac using the twelve constellations through which the sun, moon, and stars appeared to move.  Thus, we have the development of the ancient science of astrology. 

Here on April 1st, we are in the middle of the first house, Aries, the ram.  Twenty-five hundred years ago, in Plato’s time, the sun traveled through Aries on the Spring Equinox.  The first full day of spring is March 21, the beginning of the astrological period of Aries.  That is why it is the first house of the astrological signs.  Thirty-five hundred years before that, Aries marked the Winter Solstice – or new year.  Aries is a lackluster constellation and only three of its stars are clearly visible to the naked eye.  It is best viewed in early winter, but you can still find Alpha, Beta, and Gamma Arietis (ah-RYE-eh-tiss) if you look for The Pleiades star cluster.  You will find Aries as a crooked line, descending from left to right at a shallow angle to the right of The Pleiades.  Taurus is below to the left and the Triangulum (part of the Plough constellation) is above to the right.

Other constellations to see this month, all around 9PM, are Cassiopeia (the Queen), and Cepheus (the King), reigning over the rest from the north, near the horizon.

Some Native American cultures refer to this month’s full moon as the Frog Moon.  Is that due to the prominence of spring peepers who are singing to their girlfriends at this time of the year?  In Islamic culture the full Pink Moon is celebrated as a Night of Innocence where prayers are lifted to absolve deceased ancestors of their sins.  Sweet desserts are given to children, the needy and other community members.  The Pink Moon is full on the 27th of April.

We have a Near Earth Object potentially viewable this month.  The asteroid 2015MB54 is at this writing above the horizon, in the constellation Gemini.  It is projected to pass within 13+ lunar distances (more than 5 million kilometers) of us on April 6.  So, if you hear hype, that’s all it is – just noise.  We’re going to be fine.

Of course, you heard about the successful landing of the Mars Perseverance Rover.  Did you know you can see images that it has taken of the Martian surface?  No, Marvin wasn’t in any of them, but they’re pretty neat looking.  Go to this website to see them:  theskylive.com/perseverance-image-browser

On April 22 Space X will launch its Falcon 9 Crew 2 Rocket.  Whether it will be visible here is unknown.

Lastly, between April 16 and 30th, high in the sky before dawn you can look for the Lyrid Meteor Showers.  The intensity is not high, nor the count, but you can see fireballs from these meteors.